Delivering a presentation

Delivering university presentations can cause anything from minor butterflies to a flood of anxiety. Here, we share crucial guidance to help make the experience of delivering a presentation just a little more pleasurable. Even if presenting is a walk in the park for you, we’ve got some tips to make sure your presentation is the best it can be.

  • Last updated Jul 23, 2019 9:30:25 AM
  • Billy Sexton and Tuula Petersen

Planning a presentation

When planning a presentation, there are plenty of different aspects to consider. Most importantly, you should make sure your chosen topic is related to the assigned theme or question. Always ask yourself: “Does my presentation fit into the overarching theme or answer the assignment question?” Veering away from the task could heavily penalise your final grade.

First things first…

Before you start, read the marking criteria and formulate your plan with this in mind. This will help to guarantee a good grade and relieve any self-inflicted stress.

Your introduction to the topic should explain the main takeaways your audience can expect to gain from your presentation, and your conclusion should summarise your key points. The bulk of your presentation should be structured logically, have relevant and targeted material, and be the right length.

Finally, consider your audience before planning your script. Will you be presenting in front of a panel of tutors and professors, or will you be presenting in a lecture hall full of students? The audience and setting should influence how you plan to deliver the presentation, as well as the tone of voice you will use.

Be creative and informative

In order to keep your lecturer interested and your audience engaged, you should try to include original content and new information. Aim to think outside the box and present your subject in a unique format. A plain PowerPoint presentation with a white background and black text is unlikely to stimulate your audience, whereas making a Prezi with a healthy mix of bullet points, graphics and a helpful handout is more likely to engage.

Timing is everything

Make sure to check the amount of time you’ll be allocated to deliver your presentation and the level of insight required. You won’t need to regurgitate an entire textbook, but neither should you just provide the basic knowledge. Ideally, you should put forward coherent points that introduce further areas of debate for your audience to explore further. So if you were presenting a topic related to sources of constitutional law, you could touch upon the debate surrounding the British Bill of Rights, highlighting some of the main points and indicating where this debate is heading in the future.

Can you back that up?

Any point you make should be backed up with evidence either from your course syllabus or through further reading. Aim to use credible sources, such as academic literature, and try to verify the information you choose to include in your presentation from multiple sources.

Delivering a presentation

It goes without saying that you should practise your presentation before the big day. You need to make sure you have your timing down and that you avoid reading from your script as a default. This will help to keep your audience engaged. Staring at your notes and mumbling is never the best strategy.

Engaging your audience

Making eye contact, maintaining an upright posture and speaking clearly are all crucial. Obviously, you may still be nervous when presenting, but remember that everyone feels nervous to varying degrees before standing in front of an audience and presenting a topic. Take a few deep breaths and make sure you have water at the ready, just in case your throat dries up.

Remember: more often than not, you’ll be the most knowledgeable person in the room on the subject you choose to present, so make sure you deliver your presentation in a comprehensible and confident manner.

Other ways to engage the audience is to use hand gestures and ask rhetorical questions. Only use humour when you know it’s going to go down a treat. If in doubt, don’t.

Presentations are inevitable at university, but you should put as much effort into them as you do your essays!

Next article: How to get a first

More like this

  • Reading statutes and cases Billy Sexton

    When writing an essay for law, there are a lot of different factors to juggle—invariably, statutes and cases will be important. Here’s how you read them and get the most out of them for your essays.

  • Planning, Writing & Presenting EssaysBilly Sexton and Tuula Petersen

    As with any degree, a law degree requires plenty of essay writing. You might be at a complete loss regarding how best to start your essay, or you might have already submitted a few essays but your grades aren’t quite up to scratch. The following article seeks to answer all your pressing questions about essay writing, while offering tips and tricks to help you achieve the best possible result.

  • University study helpBy Billy Sexton and Anna Vall Navés

    Despite all the stereotypes about students having an easy ride, we understand that there’s actually a lot of work involved at university—especially if you’re doing a law degree. For this reason, studying can be very stressful, particularly in the latter years of study. However, it’s important that you don’t get swamped down with work and feel that there isn’t help available to you. Every university will offer a variety of different study services to ensure that your studying goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Can other things compensate for poor grades?Jennifer Overhaus

    It's a question that most law students will ponder at some point—even if just fleetingly, in a fit of worry about a particularly hard exam or midway through an essay that's struggling to take shape. It's answered here by Jennifer Overhaus, a former partner and head of a global practice group in a Top-50 American law firm. 

  • How to get a firstTom Mountford and Tuula Petersen

    Looking to get a first? Attaining the top degree class is a great achievement, but it’s not one that comes easily. Tom Mountford, who has done it all before, shares his experiences.